VICTOR TEIXEIRA – LMDI
If the last couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that our lives can change almost overnight, our habits of a lifetime can become obsolete and our old priorites be replaced by brand new ones. If you had always dreamed of having a pet but your lifestyle never allowed you the experience, lockdown – and subsequently working from home – changed everything! All of a sudden we were all home, all day, everyday. What had seemed like a logistical challenge before, now became your passport out of your home, into nature and back to some form of society. There were even funny memes on social media of dogs being dragged out of the house for the 5th time that day because their owners wanted to be outdoors. But we all knew that this reality wouldn’t last forever and that eventually we would all go back to work. This didn’t stop scores of people getting new puppies and even rescuing older dogs.
Some of the professions that struggled the most during the pandemic were now back in demand. Dog walker being one of them, it’s not hard to see how returning to work, even if only a few days a week, means that your new family members now need extra help to get fed, walked and socialised. Some dog walkers have been doing this for a long time, others opted for a career change during lockdown.
Ollie Parsons is one such person, having been a primary school teacher for a decade, he took the plunge and hasn’t looked back.
Welcome to our September DogBlog!
Ollie Parsons – Everything But Elephants
They say never work with children or animals. I’ve done both! After ten years of teaching in a range of London primary schools, I bravely decided earlier this year to hand in my notice and set up my own local dog walking and pet sitting service. I wanted a change of direction and to prioritise my mental well-being and health. I’ve now left behind the stress of the classroom and running a school for the amazing adventures of being a regular dog walker and pet sitter.
I set up Everything But Elephants earlier this year after a light bulb moment. I love animals, having grown up in a farming family in Somerset, and everyone seemed to be getting dogs, cats and all manner of other creatures during lockdown. I thought, what is needed is a local service around the Elephant and Castle area to look after all the dogs when their owners go back to the office. Having played a fun names game, I landed on the name of Everything But Elephants, to both show I’m offering a service to look after any animal (with the exception of snakes!) and to have the connection to Elephant and Castle and surrounding areas.
What’s been great fun over the early summer was launching the business, designing the website (www.everythingbutelephants.co.uk), getting my graphic designer friend to design a logo, producing a leaflet (and funky t-shirts) and then delivering 1000s of them around Elephant, joining the Association of Dog Walkers, researching the rules and regulations including getting public liability insurance and taking part in a pet first aid course. I did all of these things to make sure I am offering a professional, trusted and high-quality service for pet owners.
Although I’ve only been going for a few months, I’ve already got a few stories to tell. The first dog I started walking, Patch, is a Parsons Russell and is quite nervous. It took a few walks for him to build up trust but now every time I pick him up he comes straight out of the door, tail wagging and rearing to race off to the park. He’s particularly scared of other dogs, so I’ve gradually introduced him to canine friends in the local park and helped him to feel comfortable and safe. He still jumps at every passing cyclist or train, but he’s building his confidence and I can see improvements with every walk I do.
Aurimas @ Bobo Social, Elephant Park (Elephant & Castle SE1) welcoming Patch 🐶
A lot of dog owners have got puppies during lockdown and are now going back to the office more. They are looking for dog walks two to three times a week, which fits in well with what I offer. One such cute client is puppy Guinness, a cocker spaniel. I met him when he was just 10 weeks old and in the space of a couple of weeks he seemed to double in size! Taking him for his first few walks was magical, as he experienced running through leaves and jumping in puddles for the first time. However, the funniest moments are when I walk him with other (older) dogs where he loves to mess around and play with them, whereas they are having none of it. The look of, ‘who is this kid?’ on their faces is priceless.
Since starting my service in August, I have built up a fantastic collection of dogs I walk. I have also looked after some cute cats when the owners are away and I’ve even looked after a hamster. Whether it’s walking a pair of poodles across Burgess Park, an energetic puppy bouncing around Elephant Park or a small group walk to the Imperial War Museum gardens, it’s been lovely getting to know the personalities of each dog and to see more of my local area. What I’ve noticed is people come up and talk to you if you’ve got a dog. It builds connections and puts a smile on people’s faces for a few seconds in their busy working day. I’ve also seen the love and pride people have for their pets and the honour of that responsibility I have looking after them. I must say, I haven’t looked back and I’m loving every minute of it, although I haven’t got to the winter months yet!
If you would like to discuss a dog walk or pet sit, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 07702105709. I’m happy to meet for an initial chat to get to know your dog or cat. You can also follow my Instagram account to see my day to day walks and sits, @everythingbutelephants.
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